Patriots Deal Moss, Bank On Brady To Lead Them To Another Super Bowl

Steve O Speak

The New England Patriots made a bold, surprising and, depending on how it turns out, stupid move yesterday with their decision to trade Randy Moss. While normally I’d applaud a team for cashing in on an older, expensive impending free agent who doesn’t want to be there for a premium draft pick, I usually don’t when it seems to significantly hurt a team’s chances to win. And in this case, I don’t understand how the gain of a third round pick helps make this team any better for a playoff run. Now I realize some Patriots fans are coming to their team’s defense saying that ‘we don’t need Moss, he doesn’t want to be here, he is a problem in the locker room’ (basically the same argument you hear from Skins fans in regards to Haynesworth). But I think they doth protest too much about Moss not being needed.

Had New England made this deal on draft day of Moss for a 2010 3rd rounder, New England fans would have been in an uproar over the loss of their star receiver. Now suddenly 4 weeks into the season it is okay to trade Moss for less value. A 2011 3rd round pick is worth quite a bit less than a 2010 (not to mention the Patriots would have laughed in the face of any team that made that offer). The general rule of thumb is a future draft pick is worth slightly more than that round this year. For example the New England Patriots traded their late 3rd round pick this past season to the Carolina Panthers for their 2nd round pick in 2011. Not only did the Patriots ‘move up a round’, but they also jumped up quite a bit in that particular round. Even before the start of this season you could see that the likelihood was that the Panthers would be a bottom 15 team (now it could end up a top 5 pick in that round) meaning the Patriots would move up basically a round and a half. I don’t see how the Patriots can defend this move now, considering they wouldn’t have begun to entertain trading Moss earlier this offseason. Had they made a trade for a 2010 3rd round pick, not only would they have had that player, but they could have used both their draft and their money saved to address the receiver position.

Now the Patriots are left with a fairly uninspiring receiving corps, led by Wes Welker. Welker has put up big numbers, but he has benefited quite a bit by having Randy Moss on the other side of him. Moss not only commands opposing team’s top corner backs, but usually double coverage as well. The Patriots may have beaten the Dolphins without Moss having a catch, but him occupying Vonta Davis and taking a safety a lot of the time, opened things up for everyone else. While other Patriots receivers Brandon Tate, and Julian Edelman have shown some flashes, that was always with Randy Moss taking away a lot of the coverage. And although I like the promise of those young wideouts (and of rookie Taylor Price as well), they have not been consistent enough to warrant giving up your best deep threat, and only receiver with a height advantage.

Maybe this deal would have made more sense if the Patriots had the defense they had when they won those Super Bowls, or a rushing attack that could lead the league. The deal also would have made some more sense if New England got a player back that could help them this year as well. But as it stands now they gave up their only offensive weapon that really kept defensive coordinators up at night, and went to being more of a short passing team.

Now the Patriots have the weapons to do that, as their backs are good receivers and their rookie tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) have shown a lot of promise, and Welker is great at working underneath. But now they will have to deal with more coverage (and better coverage), and I’m sure Tom Brady will see a lot more blitzes now that no receiver demands double coverage.

I think the Patriots got too cute here and would have been better served either not making the deal or at the very least get a player back (even if it meant taking a lesser draft pick) who could have some impact on this season (as well as future seasons). Even if the player they got back wasn’t a starter, he would have value towards this season. As it stands, New England got a nice pick, but with no internal options to replace Moss they hurt their chances of competing this year and will regret this move.

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